All Under One Banner (Update)


My instincts have been to steer clear of the current stooshie around AUOB. But here I am, succumbing to the temptation to offer my thoughts. What could possibly go wrong?

The organisation problem

Yes is a diverse, open, inclusive, unstructured popular movement. It is NOT an organisation. That is as it should be. That is its strength. It is not hierarchical. It is an amorphous, informal, organic network. That is the essence of its power.
There are no leaders of the Yes movement. But there are leaders IN the Yes movement. Leadership arises as leadership is required. When that leadership ceases to be necessary, it merges back into the movement ready to be called upon if needed. The Yes movement has no need of leaders so long as it has this potential for emergent leadership.

Some of the Yes movement’s activities demand organisation. People put effort into creating the appropriate organisation within the movement. This is NOT a simple task. Creating an organisation within an organisation is relatively easy. Creating an organisation within a movement which eschews and is averse to formal structures is a hugely demanding task.

It takes a special kind of character to even attempt such a task. It takes extraordinary commitment, dedication and sheer hard work to see it through.

Have a bit of respect for those who take on this work on behalf of the Yes movement! Show some appreciation! Be just a bit grateful! And cut them some fucking slack!

The image problem

All Under One Banner (AUOB) has a serious image problem. The background to that is largely irrelevant. The image problem has to be addressed regardless of what has brought it about. It is increasingly clear that those running AUOB at the moment simply do not have the skills required to address the organisation’s image problem.

This is not to denigrate those people in any way. They have other abilities. Abilities which they have demonstrated to superb effect. But communications and media relations require a particular set of skills which AUOB have thus far failed to develop or acquire.

Rather than castigating these people for whatever mistakes may have been made or failings that have been exposed, we should be offering them the help that they need. Isn’t that what the Yes movement is about? Doesn’t our strength lie in our ability to cooperate and to find leadership where it is required?

The particular skills that AUOB needs at this time almost certainly exist within the Yes movement. The help AUOB needs should be offered. And, of course, that help must be accepted.

It’s all very well to spout fine words about how we’re all on the same side and we’re all after the same thing. But if that doesn’t mean something in practical terms, then it’s just empty rhetoric.

Let’s get this sorted!

My immediate advice, for whatever it might be worth, is that AUOB should STFU until they find somebody with the appropriate communication skills to speak for them. And everybody else should STFU unless they have a practical suggestion as to how this situation might be resolved. Preferably whilst preserving one of the most effective and important organisation that the Yes movement has given birth to.

Update – 20/10/18

Since I wrote the foregoing, a consensus appears to be emerging that AUOB is not worth saving. This is unfortunate. But it is painfully evident that neither the people running AUOB nor those pursuing various grievances against the organisation are willing to make even the smallest effort to halt the destructive course on which they have embarked.
I did not want to become embroiled in the unseemly squabbling that has engulfed AUOB. But, given the importance of the role which it has come to play in the Yes movement, I felt it was worth making a plea for some kind of ‘cooling-off’ period in the hope that this would allow an intervention by people willing and able to help turn things around.
I now see that this was a forlorn hope. AUOB needs help from people with both the necessary skills and a certain status within the Yes movement. I fear we are now at the point where those qualified to help will not want to be associated with the ugliness surrounding AUOB, And it would be unfair to ask them.
Apportioning blame for what is surely the imminent demise of AUOB would be a pointless exercise. Not least because there is enough blame to go around. Some have been the cause of problems or have aggravated the situation when there was no need. Others have failed to intervene effectively or in a timely manner. I count myself in this latter category.
There is only one Yes movement. Everyone who claims to be part of that movement bears collective responsibility. We have all gloried in the successes of AUOB. We are all diminished by its fate.

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15 thoughts on “All Under One Banner (Update)

  1. I watched the AUOB spokesman on STV recently. Like many, I was surprised that he was their best spokesman. He was guttural, and spoke the language of the street. There is nothing wrong with that , in the street!

    However on TV and the media there needs a bit of polish and depth of knowledge for any spokesperson to perform well. However lets remember that AUOB was set up by people with passion rather than polished PR skills. I am pretty sure there are plenty of people who could speak for them on TV and radio.

    I agree that people should pipe down a bit when trying to assist. We don’t need any splitters in our camp, telling others what to think.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree with your statement that YES doesn’t need those “telling others what to think.”

      This principle also means conveners/coordinators not removing peoples’ agency to participate as fully informed and consenting individuals. Without that, we remove people’s right to make their own decisions (and construct their own opinions…ie “what they think”)

      As a supporter of Scotland, and its amazing gift of being a sovereign people…I see this also framing how we respect/treat others who are equal owners of that sovereignty…this includes their rights to be informed.


  2. Exactly so! Both sides in this ‘stooshie’ are needed in the movement, as are all types of people. We all can do better if willing to listen and keep on learning, but the lessons must be delivered in a palatable way or we shut our ears and put our backs up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. AUOB have taken credit for organising these events but they did no such thing.
    Inverness was organised by highlands for yes. ( Neil Davidson.)
    Dumfries was organised by the Doonhamers for yes,( Catriona and Alistair gorden Rennie.) they had no permission for Dundee they hijacked the annual Bannockburn parade organised by Donald Anderson.
    Glasgow was organised by Gary Kelly, Ronnie Anderson an 1 other who I won’t mention as I see him every day in the mirror.


    1. I don’t care. It’s the brand that matters. All the marches carried the AUOB brand. That brand is now tarnished beyond redemption, at least as far as I am concerned.


      1. Peter

        Isn’t it INDEPENDENCE that matters rather than any brand? Ideas, personalities and brands may come and go…sadly.

        If you set the bar so low, Westminster then gains the upper hand in undermining or taking out the movement.


    2. @David McGuinness

      Thanks for the background information – I was not aware of all of these. This gives me much hope as the marches were being spawned organically from within YES. This means there is the possibility to again reform a communication network.

      Given what we have learnt, there may actually be the potential for a more skilled and inclusive publicity umbrella to actually be more successful (without leaving future political landmines).


  4. Given my part in the crystallisation of this consensus I feel it necessary to state my position. I do not think AUOB is beyond help and repair. AUOB has done and will hopefully continue to do great things. We both agree on the problem of leadership and image. I am sure there are people who would like to see the continuation of AUOB once these problems have been addressed. I am willing to work with AUOB and I am sure other – more capable – people are too.


  5. I don’t believe AUOB can be saved or indeed they would accept any help, their egos are through the roof. Too many people have been threatened and abuse online.
    Many people will refuse to march with AUOB which is not a good look for the movement.
    Will politicians and advocates of independence take to the stage at these events now? Of course TS will but he is also a turn off for many.
    Time to tear it up and start again.

    Liked by 1 person

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